Prince reigns at California music festival

Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:01am EDT
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By Gelu Sulugiuc

INDIO, California (Reuters) - Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters closed one of North America's leading music festivals on Sunday with a dazzling laser-and-props show, but the talk of the Southern California desert gathering was Prince, the Saturday headliner.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, now in its ninth year, attempted to reclaim the spotlight from a rash of new U.S. festivals by fielding the enigmatic funk-rocker as a late addition to a line-up that had initially left some fans disappointed.

When Prince took to the stage at a field 130 miles east of Los Angeles, Prince seemed to acknowledge that he had just taken the desert festival to a new level. "Coachella, I am here," he screamed. "You are the coolest place on Earth right now!"

His performance -- for which he was reportedly paid upwards of $5 million -- was announced only two weeks ago, instantly eclipsing original headliners Waters, Portishead and Jack Johnson.

The 49-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer tore through a set that included hits like "1999," "Little Red Corvette" and "Purple Rain," as well as two surprising covers: Radiohead's "Creep" and the Beatles' "Come Together." Supported by a 12-member backup band, Prince roamed the stage soloing on his Fender Telecaster guitar.

"We wanted Prince from the beginning, we didn't have a backup," festival promoter Paul Tollett told Reuters. "We just kept trying and finally it came through. He's in his own world. When he's ready, he's ready."


Tollett, who made a name for Coachella partly by engineering the reunions of bands like Rage Against the Machine and the Pixies, defended the original line-up with laid-back singer/songwriter Johnson, morose trip-hop group Portishead and Waters as headliners.   Continued...